Possible Great Tit nest problem

Hi

I've just opened our garden tumbler composter and have disturbed what I am pretty sure, was a Great Tit which flew out as I opened the lid.

It has made its little nest, complete with about 6 white speckled eggs (that were visable but maybe more) in some moss & dog hair on top of the vegetable matter whilst we've been away.

My question is....the holes in the side through which the Great Tit has gained access are at the top near the lid. The composter is only half full so the holes are quite a way from the nest. Are the baby birds stong enough to be able to negociate the flight required to fly directly to the hole from inside being so far down or have the parents made an error of judgement as to where they've chosen to nest??

Apologies if its a silly question! Photo attached is a similar composter to ours as I don't want to disturb them by going close again.

Thanks so much!

  • It could be difficult for youngsters to get out. You may want to intervene nearer time of fledging. e.g. tilt the barrel a bit. However, I'm thinking about how hot it might end up in there. Is it in full sun?
  • Thanks for replying.

    The composter is in a shady spot behind our shed so not in full sun thankfully. I've left the lid on exactly as it was for the moment as was concerned the bird might desert the nest - would it be better for me to remove it do you think?
  • No problem. Tough one to answer. I wouldn't want to guess. Hard to know how hot it'll get as I don't know the contents, air temperature, partial sun etc etc, or how that temperature compares to a small nest box. I would assume it would get pretty warm though as we head into May. Very tough. Not sure what I'd do.
  • Luckily I don't think the weather is going to change until next weekend. The contents inside will be quite old/dry as I've been using a different composter up until now and its screened from the morning sun by a hedge/shed. It has dappled afternoon sun so I'll move the composter back a bit tomorrow so its in complete shade and hope that the parent bird returns to the nest. If the daytime temperatures rise, I'll think again about replacing the lid maybe.
    Fingers crossed! Thanks again!
  • Quite by coincidence, I went to visit a house yesterday and they also had a great tit problem. They'd put up a blue tit box years ago. The great tits have used it this year and chicks have hatched. The problem is the male can't get in! Watched him struggle and on several occasions end up handing over caterpillars for the female to take in. There's a distinct risk he'll one day squeeze in enough and not be able to get out.
  • That's interesting to hear Rob, generally I tend to use boxes with no less than 28mm entrance hole and in most cases use 32mm but I notice metal hole plates are still sold (and maybe bird boxes) of a 25mm size which can cause problems for anything larger than a wren or blue tit. I've found the blue tits don't mind using the larger oval shaped stonecrete boxes which I have around the garden for the great tits and nuthatches so I have often wondered if 25mm hole plates and nest boxes should be a thing of the past ? Hopefully this male GT won't decide to squeeze in but their natural parental duties are often so strong when it comes to feeding their offspring :(

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Agreed, Hazy. If ever a small bird displayed a look of total frustration, it was that male great tit yesterday. The times I was watching, the female was there less than a minute after he was struggling to get in. Hopefully for that nest, we'll never get to find out what happens when the female is away for several minutes.
  • Well Rob, at least your friends are aware of the problem (as hopefully people who read this post are about the crucial consideration about sizing of nestbox entrance holes) and will be able to change it over next season; Some of our wooden nest boxes have a removable part front section which you can add a different size panel/hole plate to but then again you would need special permission from BTO to change anything over during nesting season so fingers crossed for this male GT.

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • It's a concrete box, so will be requiring major surgery to enlarge the entrance hole. I'll try and get an update over the next two or three days.
  • Just found out today that chicks fledged. Unclear how many, but more than one. Male never did manage to get in, or get stuck, or injury himself in the process....

    Re the tumbler nest, how has it gone?